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Saturday, February 28, 2015



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Registrars of Voters Jobs on Way Out?

By Mark Pazniokas

A countdown began today toward a debate over scrapping Connecticut’s unique system of relying on locally elected registrars of voters, one for each major party, to carry out elections in all 169 cities and towns.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill outlined legislation that would replace the Republican and Democratic registrars with a single, non-partisan official appointed by the local governing authority.

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Posted 07:52 PM
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Malloy Budget Cuts Social Services, Higher Ed; Raises Tax Revenue

By Keith M. Phaneuf

UPDATE Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today unveiled a nearly $40 billion, two-year budget that boosts tax receipts $830 million despite a sales tax cut, preserves municipal aid and cuts deeply into social services and higher education. Image
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy outlines his budget proposal today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Alvin Chang/ photo

The governor’s plan also outlines a major transportation initiative, but does not recommend how to pay for it. But the administration’s projections show it would require $112 million in new transportation revenues by 2018 and $400 million above current revenues by 2020.

And while the transportation initiative is billed as a $100 billion investment over 30 years, only about $5.1 billion extra would be spent on projects over the governor’s four-year term.

Malloy also would close one unnamed state prison and redirect a portion of the savings to his “Second Chance Society” plan, an initiative to reduce criminal recidivism and assist youth at risk of becoming offenders.

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Posted 01:10 PM
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UConn Think Tank Predicts State’s Economy Will Flourish in 2015

By Keith M. Phaneuf

After growing modestly over the past three years, the state’s economy is ready to shift into high gear in 2015, according to a quarterly report today from the University of Connecticut’s economic think tank.

And while the director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis says the 8.1 percent growth projected for 2015 probably is too good to be true, achieving even most of that would allow the state to far outstrip the national economy.

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Posted 09:30 AM
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Friday, February 13, 2015

Malloy Budget to Propose Cheaper Booze

By Mark Pazniokas

Unable to lower taxes and certain to cut services, it looks like Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will try to lighten next week’s austerity budget message with at least the possibility of cheaper booze.

Malloy chose an appearance on WPLR-FM’s irreverent Chaz and AJ radio show today to say he is going to take another crack at loosening Connecticut’s controls on alcoholic beverage pricing, plus the hours and ownership of package stores.

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Posted 05:28 PM
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Himes, Blumenthal Press for ‘Darwin Day’

By Ann Radalet

Washington – Americans observe Feb. 12 as President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, but Rep. Jim Himes and Sen. Richard Blumenthal want that date also celebrated as the birthday of Charles Darwin.

The Connecticut lawmakers have introduced resolutions in the House of Representatives and Senate that would “recognize Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge.”

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Posted 08:18 PM
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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Finance Board’s Second Round with Town Budget

In its second round at the 2015-16 town budget, Westport’s Board of Finance tonight heard from the Department of Human Services, Information Technology (IT) , Parks and Recreation, Westport Library and Earthplace, all with low percentage increases over the current year. Image
Eileen Zhang (c), director of Information Technology, was one of the department heads whose budget was examined by the Board of Finance tonight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Lomuscio for

Human Services Director Barbara Butler noted that her department’s proposed $1,111,386 is up only 1 percent over the current year. IT Director Eileen Zhang’s department’s $872,957 is up 3 percent, much of it do to network and data operating costs.

The Westport Library’s $170,840 budget is up 2.4 percent, and Earthplace’s $95,000 operating budget request shows no increase.

The Parks and Recreation Department’s more than $4.96 million budget shows a 4.4 percent increase, but it is actually “under .2 percent” since it is offset by revenues, according to Parks & Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy.

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Posted 11:06 PM
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Monday, February 09, 2015

Westport Makes Its Case on Revising 8-30G Statute

By James Lomuscio

First Selectman Jim Marpe said today that he and local legislators let the state Housing Committee know last week that Westport’s affordable housing efforts over the years are consistent with the spirit, if not the letter, of the state’s controversial affordable housing statute 8-30g. Image
First Selectman Jim Marpe testifies before the legislature’s Housing Committee in New Haven. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

“Following my testimony, Co-chairman ( Rep. Larry B.) Butler of the Housing Committee complimented Westport for the work it has done,” Marpe said

Marpe was one of about 100 persons from cities and towns who met with the Housing Committee Thursday in the New Haven City Council Chambers to discuss the merits and problems posed by 8-30g.

Local legislators present were state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, Rep. Gail Lavielle, Sen. Toni Boucher and Sen. Tony Hwang, ranking member of the Housing Committee.

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Posted 05:49 PM
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Malloy’s ‘Blue Plan’ for Long Island Sound

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced that, as part of the package of legislative proposals he will introduce later this month, he will sponsor the Long Island Sound Blue Plan in order to ensure that Connecticut has a coordinated strategy in regards to any potential future use of the Sound.

The Blue Plan directs the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and UConn to convene relevant state agencies, academic institutions, and stakeholders to compile an inventory of the natural resources and the human resources of the Long Island Sound, and to use that information to develop a plan to guide future uses of the Sound’s waters and submerged lands, an announcement said.

“The Long Island Sound is critical for Connecticut’s economy and the millions of people who rely on its resources, and yet our state does not have any existing authority to plan for its future use and protection on an overall basis,” Malloy said.

“We need to act now in order to protect our vital coastline, allow comprehensive and regional planning for use of the Sound. The Sound has been the scene of several protracted battles over the past decade, which highlights the pressing need for us to take action now.”

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Posted 04:01 PM
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Friday, February 06, 2015

Steinberg Named Chair of Influential State Panel Image
State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg at his swearing in last month to a third term. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

State Rep. Jonathan P. Steinberg of Westport (D-136) will lead an influential state panel looking to reduce costs and improve efficiencies in municipal and regional government.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey announced Steinberg’s appointment as incoming chair of the Speaker’s Commission on Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (MORE).

The group, of which Steinberg has been a member, studies government operations and recommends ways to reduce costs and ultimately save taxpayer dollars. Its recommendations were the basis for legislation that led to the recent consolidation of regional planning agencies around the state.

“I thank Speaker Sharkey for choosing me to lead this important bi-partisan commission,” said Steinberg.

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Posted 11:14 PM
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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Califano Draws SRO Library Crowd Image
Westport resident Joseph A. Califano Jr. drew a standing room only audience at the Westport Library’s McManus Room tonight. He talked about his book “The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years.” Originally published in 1991, it was republished this week with a new introduction by Califano that updates Johnson’s impact on America today. Califano said contrary to the depiction of Johnson in the film “Selma,” he and Martin Luther King Jr. formed a partnership to champion civil rights—“two guys who knew what they were doing.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

Posted 10:02 PM
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Insights from a Lyndon Johnson Insider Image
Joseph A. Califano, Jr (r)., a Westport resident who served as Special Assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1965 to 1969, told a Westport Library audience tonight that Johnson was a president “who knew how to make Washington work.” He was a hard worker who expected everyone to do the same, said Califano, 83, adding that in three and a half years working for Johnson, he had 11 days off. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

Posted 09:55 PM
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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Westport Legislators to Review 8-30G Statute

Legislators representing Westport said today that the General Assembly’s Housing Committee has agreed to hold a public hearing on Thursday in New Haven on the state’s controversial affordable housing statute 8-30g.

Among those participating will be state Sens. Tony Hwang (R-28) and Toni Boucher (R-26) and state Reps. Jonathan Steinberg (D-136) and Gail Lavielle (R-143).

More than 30 proposed bills related to 8-30g have been submitted this year from lawmakers across the state to the Housing Committee, an announcement said.

The proposals will be heard at the public hearing with testimonial sign ups at 5 p.m. at the Board of Alders Chambers in New Haven, located on the second floor, at 165 Church St.

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Posted 04:40 PM
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Monday, February 02, 2015

Malloy Extends Property Tax Payment Deadlines

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today signed an executive order which orders deadlines for Connecticut residents who pay property taxes on a semi-annual or quarterly basis to be extended several days due to the winter weather that has impacted the state over the last week.

“Between the significant snow we received last week, and now with today’s winter weather, extending this deadline will allow some additional time to help residents avoid accumulating interest fees,” Malloy said.

Under the order, the deadline will be extended from Sunday, Feb. 1, to Tuesday, Feb. 3.

The governor also authorized the commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services to grant a similar extension for several other filings, a list of which can be found on that agency’s website.

Posted 04:02 PM
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Friday, January 30, 2015

Legislators Pledge Support for Improved Transportation Image
Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-136) led a bipartisan Regional Transportation Caucus press conference today in the Capitol. Republican and Democratic House and Senate members joined in pledging support for immediate improvements for Fairfield County’s highways, bridges, and rail lines. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 06:30 PM
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Friday, January 23, 2015

Malloy’s Budget Cuts Again Hit Social Services, Universities, Courts

By Keith M. Phaneuf, Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, and Arielle Levin Becker

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today unveiled more than $31.5 million in spending cuts in his second round of emergency budget reductions, with social services, public colleges and universities and the state court system again taking the heaviest hits.

The administration’s chief budget agency, the Office of Policy and Management, technically ordered $24.6 million in cuts to 29 agencies and higher education units.

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Posted 05:55 PM
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